Transgenic Mice with Increased Expression of VEGF in RPE Cells
Dr. Campochiaro has hypothesized that as degeneration occurs in the eyes of patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells become sick and begin to produce a stimulus for blood vessel growth called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). To test this hypothesis, he is developing transgenic mice that produce high levels of VEGF in their RPE cells. If his hypothesis is correct, these mice will get abnormal blood vessel growth like that seen in patients with AMD. If these mice do get abnormal blood vessel growth, they will be a valuable tool for testing new treatments. Dr. Campochiaro's first test will be to determine if decreasing VEGF production in RPE cells eliminates the abnormal blood vessels in the retina. If they do, then drugs that block the effects of VEGF may be useful for preventing and/or eliminating abnormal blood vessels in the retinas of patients with AMD. If this study is successful, it could provide a new approach to prevent severe and rapid loss of vision in patients with abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina. This project continues a BrightFocus-funded project of the same name, begun in 1999.